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Movie review: Barrymore works to save 'Blended' from Sandler's bad taste

Published May 23, 2014 9:16 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's progress, I guess, that "Blended" isn't as actively awful as the last few Adam Sandler movies, but is merely an inert broad comedy with sporadic laughs.

Sandler is his usual obliviously terrible self as Jim, a sporting-goods store manager whose boorish behavior ruins a blind date with Lauren (Drew Barrymore), a professional closet organizer. The only thing Jim and Lauren have in common is that they're single parents: Jim, a widower, is raising three daughters, while divorced Lauren has two sons and a callous ex (Joel McHale).

Through the contrivances of the bare-bones script (by Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera), both families end up sharing a vacation at a resort in South Africa. There, Jim gives Lauren's boys lessons in manhood; Lauren helps Jim's 15-year-old daughter, Hilary (Disney Channel star Bella Thorne), shake off her tomboy looks; and the adults start warming to each other.

Sandler crony director Frank Coraci ("Click," "The Waterboy") relies heavily on running jokes — like a too-excited singer (Terry Crews) or a middle-aged horndog (Kevin Nealon) with a much younger wife (Jessica Lowe) — that he drives into the ground.

Barrymore, in her third outing with Sandler, works overtime to humanize the comedian, a Herculean task when Sandler can't trust his audience (or himself) enough to keep from undercutting every tender moment with a forced joke.

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'Blended'

Opens Friday, May 23, at theaters everywhere; rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language; 117 minutes.